Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin

Click here to read press releases on other Sheriff's Office events and occurrences

September 29, 2011

Stock Island man charged with robbery

Stock Island – A Stock Island man is in jail for robbery and knife threats following an incident on September 15th.

The victims, a man and a woman from Stock Island, told Deputy David Cruz they met with 20 year old Robert Morejon on that day, picking him up in their car at McDonald Avenue and 5th Street at about 7:30 p.m. They had agreed to sell him a laptop computer and digital camera for $275.00.

Once he got into the car, Morejon instructed them to take him to 2nd Avenue so he could get the money. When they arrived, he asked for the computer, which they handed to him. As he was getting out of the car, he told them something about “doing him dirty” and said he was taking the computer from them. The woman’s leg was outside the car, and Morejon closed the car door on it, bruising her just below the knee.

She grabbed the computer from Morejon. She said once she had the computer, she told the male victim to drive away. At that point, she said, he pulled a knife and threatened them both with it. As they were driving away, Morejon allegedly ran after the car, trying to stab the male victim, who was driving.

After they drove away from Morejon, Morejon called them and sent them several text messages threatening to beat the male victim the next time he saw him. On each occasion he said if they gave him the computer he’d be satisfied.

During an interview, Morejon said he wanted to give the male victim a “little scare” because while Morejon was in jail recently, the male victim “hit on” his girlfriend. He denied having a weapon during the incident.

A warrant was obtained for Morejon’s arrest. On Wednesday, he was charged with robbery and aggravated assault and he was booked into jail.

Stock Island man charged with stealing moped, snorkeling equipment

Stock Island – A Stock Island man is accused of stealing a moped and snorkeling equipment.

The moped was reported stolen from Robbie’s Marina on Shrimp Road early Wednesday. The victim told Deputy Kimm Trullender he suspected a 30 year old man named Brian Elswick had taken it. He said he’d kicked Elswick off his boat the day before. He said he suspects Elswick returned during the night, taking the keys from the boat and stealing the moped.

A short time later, Deputy Geni Hernandez found Elswick at Higgs Beach in Key West. After detaining him for further investigation, the stolen moped was found hidden in some bushes nearby. Elswick had possession of a mask, fins and a snorkel which he’d also taken from the moped’s owner.

Elswick was arrested. He was charged with grand theft auto and theft. He was also charged with trespassing after Deputy Hernandez discovered he’d been trespass warned from the Higg’s Beach area. Elswick was booked into jail.

September 24, 2011

Marathon man arrested for sex with a minor

Marathon – A 26 year old Marathon man is under arrest, charged with having sexual relations with a 17 year old girl.

The girl is from California and was visiting Marathon with her family. They were staying at Tranquility Bay Resort in late July when she met Justin Ahearn, who was working for Turtle Bay Water Sports.

On two occasions, the girl snuck out of the residence where she was staying and met Ahearn. They went to his house where they engaged in sexual activity.

When she returned home to California, her mother found out about the activity after finding a pregnancy test in her daughter’s room. The mother called the Sheriff’s Office to report what happened.

Detective Deborah Ryan worked with police in Brea, California to investigate the case. During the investigation, detectives say they confirmed Ahearn knew the girl was 17 years old at the time he had sexual relations with her.

A warrant was obtained for his arrest and early this morning he was taken into custody. He was charged with five counts of sexual activity with a minor. He was booked into jail.

Battery with guitar leads to arrest

Key Largo – A dispute between two men over a woman led to an arrest after one hit the other over the head with a guitar.

Deputy Dave Campbell apprehended 42 year old Eric Tappert still carrying the damaged guitar in front of the Ice Cream Shop in Tradewind’s Plaza in Key Largo. He admitted to hitting 23 year old Michael Gray over the head with it; the dispute was over Tappert’s girlfriend.

The victim told Deputy Campbell the attack happened as he was walking on Sampson Road. He said Tappert was following him and hit him from behind with the guitar.

Gray was treated for a head laceration; Tappert went to jail, charged with aggravated battery.

September 22, 2011

Armed Robbery at Marathon convenience store

Marathon – Detectives are investigating an armed robbery at a Circle K Convenience Store in Marathon overnight.

Deputy Chuck Kellenberger responded to the convenience store at 11100 Overseas Highway at 10:40 p.m. to a report of an armed robbery by two suspects, who had fled the store on foot. When he arrived, the clerk told him the two young men had robbed him; one of them had a gun pointed at him during the incident.

Detectives say the suspects are both white males in their late teens to early 20s; both are about 5 foot 10 inches tall with medium builds. One had short blond hair and was covering his face with a black shirt. He was the suspect who was armed. The other has short brown hair and also had his face covered with a dark colored shirt.

Anyone with information about this case should call the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crime Stoppers tip leads to an arrest in a felony case, the tipster will be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Fire on Keystone Road, Sugarloaf Key

Firefighters and deputies responded to a fire today on Keystone Road on Sugarloaf Key at 12:49 p.m. When they arrived, they  found the bottom half of the residence on fire. They do not believe anyone was at home at the time of the fire. Firefighters responded and the fire was extinguished by 1 p.m. The County Fire Marshall’s been notified and will be investigating.

September 21, 2011

Man arrested after traffic stop tries to escape from deputies twice

Marathon – A man, arrested after a traffic stop Tuesday night tried to escape from deputies twice; he failed his attempt both times after a Taser stopped him from fleeing.

Deputy Christian Galls stopped 22 year old Cody Wallace at 9:30 p.m. at U.S. One and 48th Street after he saw the taillight out on his 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt.

As he spoke with Wallace, Deputy Galls noticed he was acting nervous so he called for additional deputies. Deputy Danielle Malone arrived with her K-9 Tracer. As Deputy Galls ran Wallace’s name through his computer, Deputy Malone had Wallace exit his car and she used her dog to check the exterior of the car for the scent of narcotics.

The dog alerted on the car, so Deputy Malone began doing a search of the interior. She found two cans of beer, one open beside the driver’s seat. She also found a marijuana cigarette just behind the driver’s seat. Deputy Galls also learned Wallace’s license was suspended.

Deputy Thomas Hill also arrived on the scene. As the deputies were explaining to Wallace that he would be arrested, he took off running. Deputy Galls caught him and they struggled. Deputy Malone deployed her Taser and he was taken into custody without further incident.

Paramedics were called to the scene to remove the Taser prongs. While they were there, Wallace complained of chest pains so he was taken to the hospital to be checked out. Deputy Hill went to the hospital with him. Deputies Galls and Malone followed. As they pulled up outside the hospital, they heard Deputy Hill on the radio. He said Wallace had once again tried to escape, this time from the hospital.

As Deputies Galls and Malone entered the hospital to assist, they found Hill, who had Wallace on the floor. He had used his Taser to subdue Wallace and keep him from escaping.

Wallace was charged with resisting arrest with violence, resisting arrest without violence, battery, escape, possession of marijuana, driving with his license suspended and with violation of probation. He was booked into jail.

September 19, 2011

Reckless motorcycle drivers almost hit one deputy; flee from another

In two separate incidents Sunday, reckless drivers on motorcycles almost hit a deputy in Key Largo and fled from a deputy on Big Pine Key.

In Key Largo, Deputies Jacek Szymanski and Jason Keith were at the 108.9 mile marker where vehicles frequently break the law by using a merge lane as a passing lane. Traffic was heavy and Deputy Szymanski alone had just made 14 stops for the same violation in an hour and a half. At 3:15 p.m. both deputies were out of their vehicles on the side of the road when they heard a motorcycle engine revving. They then saw a motorcycle driving on the shoulder of the road, passing a truck towing a boat. The motorcycle accelerated, causing Deputy Keith to jump out of the way to avoid being hit.

Deputy Szymanski jumped into his patrol car and stopped the motorcycle, driven by 35 year old David Menendez of Miami. Menendez was arrested and charged with reckless driving.

At 2:15 a.m. Sunday, Deputy Juan Martin-Reyes was at the 27 mile marker on Ramrod Key when another deputy radioed him about a reckless motorcycle. Just as he received the transmission, the motorcycle passed the deputy northbound at a high rate of speed, registering on his radar at 99 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. Deputy Martin-Reyes turned on his lights and siren and attempted to stop the vehicle, but the vehicle continued to speed, passing several other vehicles in no passing zones. The deputy lost sight of the motorcycle on Big Pine Key, but found it abandoned on the side of the road at the 33 mile marker of the highway.

A search of the area failed to turn up the driver; the bike, a yellow 2008 Honda, was found lying on its side, still running, and appeared to have been hot wired. A check on the tag revealed it belonged to someone who lives in Miami. Miami-Dade police were contacted to assist in finding the owner, but the owner was not at home.

Several hours later, Deputy Martin-Reyes was on patrol and saw a man sitting outside at St. Peters Church. The man said he was waiting for his sister to come from Miami to pick him up. The man was wet, muddy his shirt was torn and he had leaves and grass in his hair. He appeared very nervous as the deputy was talking with him.

As the deputy asked for the man’s identification, he tried to flee; the deputy grabbed him and they struggled. During the struggle, the deputy grabbed the sleeve of the man’s shirt and the man took the shirt off to get away. The deputy shot his Taser, hitting the man with one prong but failing to stop him.  The man broke away and ran into a wooded area. Deputy Martin-Reyes called for backup officers and a search was conducted of the area, but the man was not found.

At 11 a.m., Detective Diane Mimosa was notified by Key West Police the motorcycle had been reported stolen. It was reportedly taken from the Fairfield Inn in Key West. Investigations into the identity of the suspect continue.

September 18, 2011

Accident blocks road at 77 mm this morning

Lower Matecumbe Key, 5:21 a.m. – A head on accident occurred this morning between two vehicles, a sport utility vehicle and a van. One person was transported to the hospital for a laceration to the head; all others involved refused treatment. The road was completely blocked for about 45 minutes after which traffic alternated until the accident was cleared. Florida Highway Patrol troopers investigated the case.

Accident, Stock Island, 1:50 p.m. – Callers reported four vehicles were involved in an accident on 5th Street on Stock Island this afternoon. Two people were taken to Lower Keys hospital for injuries. The road was blocked for approximately half an hour.

Body pulled from water off of Stock Island

A woman’s body was pulled from the water at a Stock Island marina this morning. Initial examination of her body at the scene showed no obvious signs of foul play.

71 year old Betty Robertson was found dead in the water at Old Island Marina at 7 a.m. She, her husband and a male friend all are living  on board a tug boat at the marina. Her husband, 64 year old Warren Robertson, went out last night with the friend; they returned to the boat at 2:30 a.m. but didn’t see notice anything unusual. This morning, at 7 a.m., the friend went outside on deck and found her body.

Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo said it appears Robertson fell into the water as she tried to climb either from the boat to the dock, or from the dock to the boat. Her body was caught between the boat and the dock; her clothing was tangled on some pieces of piling and rebar, with her head in the water and her legs sticking up out of the water. Detective Cuervo says it looks like after falling into the water, she could not get herself back upright  and may have drowned. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of her death.

Detectives and deputies at the scene were assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard and members of the Sheriff’s Office dive team, who removed the body from the water.

September 15, 2011

Key Largo school teacher charged with battery on student

A Key Largo school teacher was booked into jail today, charged with battery on a female student.

The victim, who is 12 years old and a student in 38 year old Jose Zepeda’s math class, told her family about the incident in May of 2011. According to Major Crimes Detective Jason Madnick, the girl was having trouble in the class and Zepeda would have the girl sit next to his desk during class, to help her with her math. She said periodically during the school year, he would put his hand on her thigh while helping her. She said on May 9th, he put his hand on her knee and then moved the hand up her thigh until he reached an area close to her groin area. At that point, she said she pushed his hand away. The following day, she said he put his hand on her thigh again. This time, she said he looked down at his groin, then at her, then at his groin again; that is when she said she noticed he had a bulge in his pants. After this incident, she did not return to his class and told her sister what happened. Her sister told her parents, who called the Department of Children and Families  Abuse Hotline to report the incident.

DCF Investigators contacted the Sheriff’s Office and Detective Madnick was assigned to investigate.

Zepeda admitted in an interview with Detective Madnick that he touched the girl’s leg “many times”. He denied that his intentions were ever sexual in nature. Detective Madnick interviewed students in the class and three of them told him they’d seen Zepeda touch her leg in class.

On September 14th, a warrant was obtained for Zepeda’s arrest for battery. Bond on the warrant was set at $1,000.00. He turned himself in today and was released after posting bond.

September 12, 2011

Miami man arrested for exposing himself

Plantation Key – A Miami man was arrested Sunday after he stood up through a car’s sunroof and exposed himself while traveling on Highway U.S. One.

An off duty Florida Highway Patrol trooper, traveling with his wife and young child to a 9/11 ceremony Sunday morning called to report the incident at 9 a.m. He said he was southbound at the 90.5 mile marker of the Highway when it happened. He said the front passenger stood up through the sunroof as the vehicle was traveling approximately 25 miles per hour. The male, later identified as 31 year old Julio Socarras Mompeller, reportedly had his pants down and was exposing himself. The witness said Mompeller was making motions with his hand as if he were masturbating. As he exposed himself, the vehicle reportedly ran the red light at Sunshine Boulevard and U.S. One.

Deputies Todd Wyatt and Yunier Galvez responded to the area and spotted the silver colored Mercedes Benz near the 85 mile marker. When they pulled it over, Mompeller was still in the passenger seat. He had no shirt on and deputies reported his pants were loose, with the belt unbuckled. The FHP Trooper pulled over as well and identified Mompeller as the man he saw expose himself.

As the deputies questioned the three people in the car, Mompeller spontaneously said they did not run the red light. The other two in the car admitted Mompeller did expose himself, but they said they didn’t know why he did it.

Mompeller was arrested and charged with indecent exposure. He was booked into jail.

September 10, 2011

Man arrested for burglary, violation of injunction

Tavernier – A Tavernier man was arrested Friday, charged with breaking in to his ex-girlfriend’s home and with violating a court-ordered injunction she’d obtained to keep him away from her.

The victim obtained the injunction against 53 year old Frank Warden after an incident of domestic violence occurred between them on August 23rd. Warden was served with the injunction on the 25th. The injunction ordered him to stay away from her residence on Arbor Lane in Tavernier and not to have contact with her.

On August 26th, the victim came home, walked in the house and heard the shower running. Thinking it was Warden, she left the house and called the Sheriff’s Office. When Deputy Tim Hunsberger arrived, he went inside. He found her computer had been placed in the shower and water was running on it. He also found all her prescription medications were in the toilet. A note was found in Warden’s handwriting. It said “Good fortune is history”. Good Fortune is the name of the victim’s boat.

A witness was found who lives nearby. He said he saw Warden standing outside the Arbor lane residence earlier. Evidence was found indicating he’d entered by prying open a window. While officers were with the victim, Warden called her phone several times.

Detective Robert Dosh obtained a warrant for Warden’s arrest and on Friday he was taken into custody, charged with burglary, stalking and violating the injunction. He was booked into jail.

September 9, 2011

Detectives, SWAT team serve two search warrants

Stock Island – Detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division, assisted by the Special Weapons and Tactics team, served two search warrants this morning on Laurel Avenue, Stock Island.

As SWAT team members entered a home at 5670 Laurel Avenue, Suite 1, at 6 a.m., the resident, 25 year old Sean Nesbitt, ran out the back and hid inside a trailer next door. He was located shortly and was arrested after a search of his residence turned up marijuana and crack cocaine. He was charged with possession of the illegal substances, trespassing and resisting arrest.

A second search at 5700 Laurel Avenue, Lot 67 resulted in the arrest of 19 year old Calvin Lee after 26 Ecstasy pills, 13 Xanax pills and 173 grams of marijuana were found inside. Detectives seized $1,860 in cash believed to be drug proceeds. Lee was charged with possession of marijuana, trafficking in Ecstasy and possession of Xanax.

Marathon man dies while snorkeling

Marathon – A Marathon man snorkeling offshore of Marathon Thursday died while in the water.

57 year old Robert Tyson was near Sombrero Lighthouse with his girlfriend, 58 year old Colleen Bartkovich of San Antonio, Texas. She told Deputy Sydney Whitehouse she lost track of him in the water. She said she climbed on board the boat, but couldn’t see him.

As she was looking for him, another boat approached. A man on board, 47 year old James Melley,  told her Tyson had been involved in an incident and was being transported to shore by Seadog Charters. Since she did not know how to operate the boat she was on, Melley got on board with her and drove the boat to shore for her.

Deputy Whitehouse responded to Burdines Waterfront and saw someone on board the boat from Seadog Charters performing CPR on Tyson. Paramedics also arrived and took over his care, transporting him to Fishermen’s Hospital. A doctor at the hospital pronounced Tyson dead and contacted the Medical Examiner’s Office. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.